The filth and the foolery

The “Jackass” boys are back in their third installment of silver screen stupidity.

by Tony Libera

âÄúJackass 3DâÄù

Directed by: Jeff Tremaine

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O

Rated: R

Showing at: Area theaters, Oct. 15

âÄúThe Social NetworkâÄù is getting plenty of hyperbole slapped on it these days, being called a zeitgeist film and the movie of our generation. But how many of us, in our sweet, transient youth, went out and founded a billion-dollar company? Few, to be sure. Now, how many of us went outside and imitated something we saw on âÄúJackass,âÄù some dumb stunt we were expressly told not to do? Plenty.

âÄúJackass 3D,âÄù the latest and probably final entry into the âÄúJackassâÄù anthology, says more about our sophomoric, lust-for-laughs generation than âÄúThe Social NetworkâÄù ever could.

The ethos hasnâÄôt changed after ten years of jackassery, with the third movie bearing a strong resemblance to its predecessors. The stunts are still sadistic, sometimes dangerous and painful when theyâÄôre not completely disgusting, but that has always been the appeal of the franchise. The band of lovable fools pushes its tolerance for pain and idiocy, and the viewer gets the chance to watch the train wreck unfold, peeking warily through the slits in one hand and holding their gut with the other as they shake with laughter.

In âÄúJackass 3D,âÄù the gang runs through a Taser obstacle course, smacks a beehive tetherball around, superglues their bodies together and, of course, plays with their penises. The stunts are as stupid as they are hilarious, but the funniest part of many bits is just watching the performersâÄô reactions. Knoxville and company arenâÄôt getting any younger, and a lifetime of experience has taught them that these stunts are going to hurt. Steve-O expresses his reluctance best in a bit that features a baseball locked-in on his genitals. âÄúWhy do I have to be Steve-O?âÄù he laughs/cries.

The fact that Steve-O has been sober for two years adds even more to his fear factor. He looks physically different on film, healthier and in-the-moment, but his actions and frantic reactions are made all the more comical by his clear-headedness.

One of the biggest surprises of the movie is how visually striking it can be. As the title suggests, âÄúJackass 3DâÄù is at times shot in currently fashionable and generally deplorable 3D. Yet director Jeff Tremaine keeps it simple despite its complexity, giving a roundness and a realness to the stunts âÄî and rarely subjecting his audience to objects flying at them along the z-axis.

Tremaine also employed Phantom HD cameras in certain scenes, which capture 1,000 frames per second, allowing the audience to watch painful events as they transpire in unbelievably slow motion. The cameras are used to their fullest in the perfectly choreographed opening and closing scenes, catching every nuance of the absurd spectacles on display.

As the final credits role, the stars and crewmembers, now in their 30s and 40s, are juxtaposed with images from the pre- and early âÄúJackassâÄù days, evoking surprisingly deep feelings of nostalgia and tenderness. ThereâÄôs a sense of closure as âÄúJackass 3DâÄù fades to black, offering an air of finality.

People can say what they will about the dangerousness of the stunts or the repulsiveness of the bodily bits or the perceived moral depravity of the show and films, but the fact is that âÄúJackassâÄù inspired many of us to go outside and play, to have fun and make mistakes, to try, to fall, to fail and to laugh along the way, not to just while away the hours in front of our computers, typing inanity into our status bars. And thatâÄôs something to be admired.

3/4 stars